Who carves and destroys?
Tilang Kafi Sovereign 10
Only the Creator is the Death.
From the beginning to the end, carver and destroyer of endless forms. Pause-reflect.
For Whom slander and praise are alike, there is no foe or friend.
What trouble came to Krishna that he had to be the charioteer of Arjuna’s chariot?
For Who has no father, mother, caste, children, and grandchildren is the Emaniciaptor;
Then for what deed did Krishna come and call himself the son of Devaki?
The One who created deities, demons, directions, corners, and the whole expanse;
What’s the glory if the mouth names That One Krishna who killed Mura?
Tilang Kafi musical mode invokes mood and emotions of impressive effort and yearning.
Kal or Kala is a Sanskrit word that means time or death. In Hinduism, Kal is a god of death, often named Yama or Jama. Kal has reincarnations in both Shaivite and Vaishnavite traditions. Kal is cited in Hindu texts Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Bhagavata Purana. In Mahabharata, Krishna reveals himself as Kal to Arjuna.
Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, the Sovereign, locates the Creator as the Death; there is no god or messenger of death. In this universe, there is only One Creator whose identity includes death for only the 1 creates. Death-Creator is everyone’s, and everything's beginning and end. Death-Creator has infinite forms, yet only Death-Creator destroys and carves everyone and everything. My Sovereign tells me to stop living in fear, including the ultimate fear of death and its agents. My Sovereign reminds me to identify only with the Creator as the Death.
My Sovereign explains to me: Creator-Death is not affected by praise or slander. Creator-Death has no foe or friend. Why was Krishna the charioteer of Arjuna’s chariot? What was the reason for that trouble? Parath (path, pritha, or prutha) is the son of Kunti and refers to Arjuna. Krishna is driving Arjuna during the Kurukshetra war in epic Mahabharata. My Sovereign tells me that the reincarnation of Hari-Vishnu-Krishna didn’t spare himself from the conflict between Kaurava and Pandava dynasties. Krishna declared himself Kal, death-incarnate, and sided with a friend against a foe. My Sovereign reminds me not to accept any earthly or mythological authority as the Death-Creator.
My Sovereign explains to me: Creator-Death has no mother or father and no caste classification. Creator-Death has no children or grandchildren. Creator-Death is the Emancipator. Why did son Krishna come to be born of mother Devaki? What did he come to do? My Sovereign tells me the reincarnation of Hari-Vishnu-Krishna is the son of Devaki, born in Mathura. How can Krishna be the Creator-Death? Krishna’s mother, father, foster-mother, foster-father, brother, sister, cousin, and siblings are Devaki, Vasudeva, Yashoda, Nanda, Balarama, Subhadra, and Yogamaya. Krishna’s consorts are Radha, Rukmini, Satyabhama, Kalindi, Jambavati, and 16,000 more. Krishna’s children are Pradyumna, Samba, Bhanu, and several thousand more, ten from each; 16,008 wives and 160,080 children. Krishna’s dynasty is Yadu, Yadav, or Jadhav. Once again, my Sovereign reminds me not to accept any earthly or mythological authority as the Death-Creator.
My Sovereign explains to me: Deities and demons are part of the entire expanse of the Death-Creator in all spaces of the universe. Death-Creator's creation has no time, space, forms, or environment limits. Wouldn’t it be reducing the Death-Creator if I were to praise Krishna as Murari? Murari is the killer of Mura. Mura was the general of Narakasur, the legendary king of Assam, who is presented as a demon in Hindu mythology. My Sovereign tells me not to confuse Krishna with the Death-Creator. Why shall I worship any earthly or mythological authority who killed an adversary and appropriated him as a demon? I must accept my Sovereign’s Death-Creator as the only one who carves and destroys.
Note: We are very finite; our understanding is finite too. We aspire to deepen our relationship with the Guru. In this translation and commentary, we focused more on meaning, context, and message and less on literalism and poetics. We aspire to learn and live the message to end our separation from the 1.
This artwork, inspired by Guru Gobind Singh’s composition, is an abstract interpretation of a mythological scene. The composition uses complex imagery of Krishna as a charioteer and a warrior in a scene from the Mahabharat. Instead of illustrating this literally, I chose to focus on one phrase from the first line of the composition. There is a reference to “bhañjanharu,” the one who breaks; the line says from the beginning of time to the very end, the one who creates and destroys is the Divine. Whatever one’s conception of death is, there is only the ੧/IkOankar/the One who creates from the beginning and destroys in the end. Inspired by this, I used the sky as a setting to show this dual and multifaceted function of the ੧. In a small and incomplete representation, the sky is also a multi-function space that builds when there is life-giving rain and destroys when there is life-destroying lightning and storm.
Note: Where there is greenery, there is ‘natural life.’ I situate the readers, the learners, and seekers, those engaging with the composition there. In every artwork, I have placed ੧, a reference to IkOankar, the One, without limiting it to an object-based depiction such as a sun or a moon. The colors are chosen intentionally to evoke a particular interpretation or adhere to a cohesive color palette to show the relationship between the ten compositions of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib.
ਤਿਲੰਗ ਕਾਫੀ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੀ ੧੦
ਕੇਵਲ ਕਾਲਈ ਕਰਤਾਰ॥
ਆਦਿ ਅੰਤਿ ਅਨੰਤਿ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਗੜ੍ਹਨ ਭੰਜਨਹਾਰੁ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ॥
ਨਿੰਦ ਉਸਤਤਿ ਜਉਨ ਕੇ ਸਮ ਸਤ੍ਰੁ ਮਿਤ੍ਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ॥
ਕਉਨ ਬਾਟ ਪਰੀ ਤਿਸੈ ਪਥ ਸਾਰਥੀ ਰਥ ਹੋਇ॥੧॥
ਤਾਤ ਮਾਤ ਨ ਜਾਤਿ ਜਾਕਰ ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਪੌਤ੍ਰ ਮੁਕੰਦ॥
ਕਉਨ ਕਾਜਿ ਕਹਾਹਿਂਗੇ ਤੇ ਆਨਿ ਦੇਵਕਿਨੰਦ॥੨॥
ਦੇਵ ਦੈਤ ਦਿਸਾ ਵਿਸਾ ਜਿਹ ਕੀਨ ਸਰਬ ਪਸਾਰ॥
ਕਉਨ ਉਪਮਾ ਤੌਨ ਕੋ ਮੁਖਿ ਲੇਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਮੁਰਾਰਿ॥੩॥੧॥੭॥
tilaṅg kāphī pātisāhī 10
keval kālaī kartār.
ādi anti ananti mūrati gaṛhan bhañjanhāru.1. rahāu.
nind ustati jaün ke sam satru mitru na koi.
kaün bāṭ parī tisai path sārathī rath hoi.1.
tāt māt na jāti jākar putra pautra mukand.
kaün kāji kahāhiṁge te āni devakinand.2.
dev dait disā visā jih kīn sarab pasār.
kaün upmā taun ko mukhi let nāmu murāri.3.1.7.
Bhai Balbir Singh